The wildflowers at Long Hunter State Park are just starting to yawn and stretch themselves open.

Wildflowers in the Mustard family (Brassicaceae) are the “early birds” of the bunch though. Known for their four petals and rosette basil leaves (pretty, rose-like base leaves,) they are blooming in different areas across the park right now.

Long Hunter Park Ranger Leslie Anne Rawlings knows almost everything that there is to know about the wildflowers at her park.

“The Mustards are blooming right now because there’s no competition from the trees,” Rawlings said. She explained that the trees with their baby leaves are still letting lots of light shine down on the flowers and the ground around them.

The Mustards take full advantage of their allotted sunlight, blooming March through mid-April. The blooms are crucial for the wildflowers because they need pollinators to help them make seed pods so that the future generation of wildflowers can enjoy that same spot next year.

While it is so tempting to pick wildflowers, especially for that very special person in your life, why not instead visit the flowers together where they live? Or, sharpen your photography skills with patient flower subjects.

Rawlings notes that there are three types of Mustard family wildflowers blooming right now at the park. She suggested looking for Cutleaf Toothwort on the wooded Bryant Grove trail, Leavenworthia on the rocky Couchville Cedar Glade and Hoary Bittercress just about anywhere.

The Toothwort’s bloom, white with a touch of pink, is about an inch across. The rare Leavenworthia’s white, yellow, or purple flowers are also about an inch across. But the tiniest and most common of the bunch is the Bittercress and its blooms; the tiny white blossoms measure only their largest, ⅛-inch across. All of Long Hunter’s special blooms, no matter how tiny or how showy, last only a little while. Take advantage of this special time at Long Hunter to view some of spring’s earliest blooms!

Long Hunter State Park is located at 2910 Hobson Pike, Hermitage. The park is open every day from 7 a.m. to sunset. The park’s phone number is (615) 885-2422.

Molly Stophel is the front desk clerk for Long Hunter State Park. She grew up walking the Couchville Lake Trail and still considers it her favorite part of the park.

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